Intermittent fasting (IF), or alternating between periods of fasting and feeding, is a weight loss method that has gained popularity over the past several years as more research has shown beneficial effects.
A key part of IF is not to overindulge during periods of eating. This is the part of IF that is most often ignored, leading to lack of results. Studies on IF have generally advised no more than 125% of normal caloric intake on feeding days.
IF has been shown in studies to produce weight loss equal to that achieved by maintaining a low calorie diet on a daily basis. However, some of these studies allowed for up to 25% of normal caloric consumption on fasting days. You are likely to have better results if you follow a true fast. Even if the weight loss results are the same, there are many other reasons to fast:
1. If you have difficulty eating healthy because of a hectic work or home schedule, fasting gives you a break from cooking or trying to find something healthy to eat. It takes the decision-making work out of the equation, leaving you with more time to spend on other activities.
2. Fasting helps reduce your insulin resistance. Although carbohydrates stimulate the greatest amount of insulin release, protein stimulates some insulin release as well. Fasting is the only way to completely avoid insulin spikes. Low insulin levels lead to improved insulin sensitivity and allow your body to enter fat-burning mode.
3. Fasting has been shown to naturally increase your levels of Human Growth Hormone. In fact, fasting has been embraced by the body building community as a way to enhance muscle development. Additionally, fasting stimulates the release of adrenaline, which boosts your metabolism.
4. Fasting appears to stimulate autophagy, a cleanup process in the body allowing for destruction of damaged cellular components. It is speculated that this can lead to anti-aging effects.
In conclusion, fasting has many health benefits in addition to weight loss. If you are having difficulty with traditional daily dieting, IF can be an effective alternative if done correctly.
As with all weight loss techniques, I recommend that you have medical supervision if you decide to try intermittent fasting. If you are interested, I can provide you with additional guidelines on how to safely and properly follow an intermittent fast.